Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Homemade Oreos

This has got to be one of my most favorite desserts of all time - and one of the easiest too!

I remember being 10 years old - sitting in a classroom in my green dress - and my teacher walked in carrying these . . . .

Oreos. And not just any oreos, but homemade oreos and they were still warm! I tell you, little chocoholic me was in heaven.

Being that I'm a big girl now, I have grown-up tastes, so I've changed these up just a wee bit.

Have you ever noticed how much vanilla you go through? Let's face it, I buy mine in bulk at Costco, because they sell the real stuff {ie. vanilla extract, NOT vanilla flavoring} and it's way cheaper than buying the real stuff at the grocery store and I seem to go through it faster than the county fair. I love vanilla. It's the head honcho of flavorings. We live in a vanilla flavored world. Vanilla flavored cookies, vanilla flavored cakes, vanilla flavored ice cream . . .{I covered the basic food groups, right?} So, in essence, vanilla has just become . . . dare i say . . . blah? No, not blah. but it almost has no 'flavor' simply because that's what our palette is used to. BUT, what if we changed that? I'm not saying nix the vanilla out of your pantry all-together, but for this recipe, I highly recommend that you do. Oreo's have cream filling. Instead of using vanilla extract, I use almond. I swear you'll have a Ratatouille moment. The notes of almond flavored cream cheese filling with a softened chocolate cookie will make your palette do a happy dance. Trust me. But before you go running to your local grocery store to grab some, let me give you a hint - DON'T. Just like getting ripped off with vanilla extract at the grocery store, you will also get ripped off with almond extract. Let me save you a few bucks {literally} and direct you to the cake decorating aisle of your local craft store. There, amongst all the colorings and flavorings, you will find a cute little bottle of clear almond extract for a measly $2 (as opposed $8 at the grocery) and it smells like heaven.{ok, ok, I'll get off my soap box now}

I seriously can't get enough of these. They're so easy to whip up and then . . . suddenly . . . a little mouse finds its way into your kitchen and they're GONE . *sniff* {ok, fine . . . i ate them}

So I crafted up an ingenious solution. Less is more! {wait, what? Less chocolate is not more chocolate. I know. Let me explain} Instead of making 1-1/2-inch balls of dough like the recipe calls for, I pull out my my trusty mini cookie scoop!
{photo from pampered chef}

It's actually probably meant for truffle balls or something, but seriously, who doesn't like mini cookies? I found my baby scooper at Gygi's (they don't sell it online - sorry), but I believe that Pampered Chef sells them too. Now, instead of like 2 dozen oreos {totally not enough}, we have tons and tons more! Alright, maybe not tons, but it seems to make them last longer . . . or maybe it just helps you justify eating two instead of one. haha. Ü Either way . . . More cookies!

Using your scoop, dish out your cookies onto a large cookie sheet and bake them for about 10 minutes. Once the cookies are cool, frost them up! Don't forget that these babies need to be refrigerated. I've found that after they've sat in a tupperware in the fridge for a few hours, the cookies get super soft and perfectly chewy - so, while patience is difficult, it is a also a virtue. Ü

You can also dress up your cookies if you think they're feeling a little naked - Color the frosting; dip them in {more} chocolate; roll them in nuts; dip them in chocolate AND roll them in nuts Ü . . . you get the picture. ENJOY!

Homemade Oreos

2 (18.25 ounce) packages devil's food cake mix
4 eggs
1 cup shortening

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix all ingredients together and scoop 3/4-inch rolls of dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes and let cool.

Once cool, put a generous helping of cream cheese frosting between two cookies - bottom sides together.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
food coloring (optional)
chopped almonds (optional)

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the powdered sugar. 

Store cookies in a tupperware in the refrigerator.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup

Ah, the change in the seasons.

Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and throats are scratching everywhere you look. Ü Well, at least they are at my house. I seem to be coming down with a little bit of a cold and nothing sounds better right now than a large bowl of hot, homemade, healthy chicken noodle soup. This recipe is SO easy - I promise. And it tastes way better than something you might pour out of a can. I also like to use fresh herbs tied in a bouqet garni* so that I don't have little herbs floating in my soup.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
2 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T flour
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh sage
8 C chicken stock
2 1/2 C wide egg noodles, uncooked
1-2 whole chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
Place your mirepoix** and olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Saute until onions are translucent. Add flour and stir to soak up excess oil (the flour helps to thicken up the sauce a little). Slowly stir in chicken stock. *Tie rosemary, thyme, and sage in a bundle and place in pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When the pot comes to a boil, add the egg noodles and cook as per instructions (usually about 10 minutes). Once the noodles are done, add the cooked chicken, return pot to a boil and then enjoy!!

Yield: 6 servings
Time: ~ 1 hour

** the magic word of the day!
Mirepoix (mîr-pwä'): is the French name for a combination of onions, carrots, celery, and, in this case, garlic. Traditionally, the ratio for mirepoix is 2:1:1 of onions, celery, and carrots.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Chocolate Fondue


My name is Katrina.

and I'm a chocoholic. *sniffle*
Seriously though - I love chocolate. In my old house, I had a saying up on the wall in the kitchen that read "Given enough chocolate, I could rule the world"
This 'no sugar' diet has put a wedge in me and chocolate's relationship. It's very love/hate right now.

But this . . . (and a chocolate and almond covered ice cream bar from Costco . . . and a snickers . . . and maybe a Milka bar . . . oh, and Kinder Eggs) . . . this I can't resist:

Chocolate Fondue

1 tsp butter
1 C miniature marshmallows
1/3 C whipping cream
6 oz. chocolate chips
2 Tbsp milk

Rub a small fondue pot or miniature crock pot with butter. Place chocolate chips, marshmallows, and milk in the fondue pot. Cover and heat, stirring every 15 minutes until melted and smooth. Gradually add whipping cream. Cover and heating for 30 minutes.

Gather up all your girlfriends or send the kids away have a candlelit dessert with hubby for Valentine's Day. Serve with everything.
Strawberries, bananas, apples, french bread, pound cake, marshmallows, macaroons, pretzels, ladyfingers, brownies . . . the list could go on forever.

{Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups of delectable fondue that will disappear in about 10 minutes}

Friday, January 7, 2011

Pear and Raspberry Pastry

For some reason, the thought of pears and raspberries together make angels sing in my head. Ü No idea why really - I've never eaten a pear/raspberry something before, but they just GO together, you know? Like peanut butter and jelly. So i just so happened to have both pears and raspberries floating around in my kitchen the other day and i knew that i needed to make something out of them . . . like a tart or something. So I went hunting and found this:

the pictures alone had me drooling, and the recipe that followed made it even more appealing. So simple. So easy. So Yummy. The hint of ginger combined with the soft cooked pears, the sweetness of raspberries and the slight crunch and flakiness of the pastry was so cool and refreshing and yet was also intensified with the warmth {no, I couldn't wait for it to cool down, although after having it warm from the oven, i'm not sure that i'll eat it any other way now Ü} Can anyone tell I was in heaven yet?

I would show you a picture of how mine turned out (they were pretty darn cute Ü) but I'm afraid that all that's left of them are finger-licked dishes in the sink. {bummer - i know. I even went back to Costco to buy more raspberries so I could make more, but alas, the raspberries were gone.}

But I'll still tell you my version anyway, cause it's cooler Ü (ok, not really, but i was too lazy to make pie crust)

Pear and Raspberry Pastries

3 large pears, peeled and cubed
1 C raspberries
3 T sugar {YES! only THREE tablespoons! I was super excited about that Ü}
2 T cornstarch
1/2 t ginger (can't skip this ingredient - it is a must!}
Juice of half a lemon
1 sheet puff pastry {found in the freezer section by all the pies}

Roll out puff pastry and place in 10-inch pie plate, 3 medium-sized or 6 individual-sized ramekins {I used 3 medium-sized ones because it gave me an excuse to use my square pie dishes Ü}

Place pears and raspberries in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, and ginger. Add to pears and raspberries and mix. Add lemon juice and mix. Dish out equal portions onto pastry and bake at 400 F for 25 - 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Best served warm.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Oh boy - Waffles! Ü

I'm not sure if these are the best waffles in the world, because I grew up with them and therefore am biased, but I sure love them!! Especially with strawberries and whip cream on top. Breakfast food has got to be one of my favorite things to eat  - be it waffles, pancakes, crepes, omelets, breakfast casserole, etc. Ü Hmm . . . if I hadn't already had french toast today, I might just be tempted to make these for dinner tonight Ü

Waffles are super easy to make from scratch, and (in my opinion) are healthier for you too - no preservatives and other weird stuff they put in pancake/waffle mixes.

Once you have the batter made (see recipe at end) all you need is a waffle iron. Pour a little batter in, close the lid, and wait for the light to turn green {burn proof! no guessing involved Ü}

 {see? perfectly golden! Ü}

I like to get a little system going to keep the waffles coming smooth and steady while I work on other things, so as soon as the light turns green, I'm good to go!
Working from right to left:
  • bowl containing batter
  • measuring spoon (mine takes about a half cup)
  • and 'spoon rest' {because I hate getting the counter messy and I hate losing the measuring cup in the batter Ü}
  • waffle iron
  • two forks {used to remove waffles from the iron without burning fingers! don't scratch the iron though!}
  • plate for waffles
  • Pam or some type of oil to coat the iron. If your iron is fairly new, you may need to use it in between every waffle. Mine's usually good with just one spritz at the beginning, but DON'T FORGET IT! {don't ask me how I know Ü}

Want to know the best part? This makes the best breakfast all week long! Don't have time in the mornings? No worries! I usually make these on a Saturday or Sunday morning, so I take all of the leftover waffles and place them on a cookie sheet or plate that fits in the freezer. Place in the freezer for an hour or two, then bag them up and stick them back into the freezer. Throughout the rest of the week, just pull out a waffle or two and pop them into the toaster - é voilá! - homemade eggos!!

Oh boy - Waffles!

Sift together:
2 1/4 C flour
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar

Mix together:
2 beaten eggs
2 1/4 C milk
1/2 C vegetable oil

Preheat waffle iron. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until moistened (batter will be slightly lumpy - this is totally normal). Bake in preheated waffle iron.

Serves 4-6

Friday, July 16, 2010

Melt-in-your-mouth Chocolate Cake

I got this recipe from chocolate & zucchini while searching for an easy chocolate cake recipe the other day. After seeing that it was moist and only had five ingredients, I was sold! Not to mention the melt-in-your-mouth part. 

The recipe called for dark chocolate. I'm a chocolate lover, but not a dark dark chocolate lover. I like things somewhere in the middle - not too sweet, not too bitter - so I used semi-sweet chocolate chips. You're welcome to adjust the recipe to your own likings.

I wouldn't really call this a cake - it doesn't have a 'cakey' texture at all. It has more of a cheesecake texture without the heaviness of all that cheese and sugar. It's smooth and decadent, yet firm and rich. Rich enough that one slice will leave you satisfied for the night, but if you need more, I'm sure you could grab another piece {or convince your hubby that he needs another piece and snitch some off of his. hehe. Ü}

Melt-in-your-mouth Chocolate Cake
adapted from chocolate & zucchini  
2 sticks minus 1 T butter (aka - 15 T or 1 C minus 1 T)
7 oz (~ 1 C) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 C sugar
4 eggs
a rounded tablespoon of flour

Note: like all dark chocolate cakes, this cake is best made a day ahead (or at least in the morning if you serve it for dinner). 
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper (no need to if you're using a non-stick pan).

Melt together the butter with the chocolate (in a double-boiler or in the microwave slowly and for just a few second at a time, blending with a spoon between each pass). Transfer into a medium mixing-bowl. Add in the sugar, stir with a wooden spoon and let cool a little. Add in the eggs one by one, mixing well after each addition. Finally, add in the flour and mix well. Pour the dough into the pan, and put into the oven to bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the center is set but still a little wobbly. Turn the oven off but leave the cake inside for another 10 minutes, then put the pan on a cooling rack on the counter to cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate, and take it out about an hour before serving.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nutella Mousse

The other day I was making chocolate angel food cake {I'll post that recipe later - don't worry). I've made it quite a few times now and I love it for the most part - just the right amount of chocolate to make you happy and yet go back for seconds - but that's ok, cause it's angel food cake, right? The recipe also contains an amaretto filling for the cake that was just plain awful the first time I tried it. It's too heavy for an angel food cake, and the contrasting textures just aren't pleasing. Each time I made it, I'd fudge with the recipe a little - this way and that. A few times it came out good, other times a total flop. Of course, I forgot to write down the good ones. The flopped ones got thrown away and bavarian cream was made instead - at least I knew that the texture would blend well with the cake. Hence why I decided to start this blog. If I don't write this recipe down, I know I'll forget it. This time around, I decided the cake needed more of a chocolate flavor. What resulted of my own concocting was dazzling and dangerous . . . it nearly didn't make it on the cake Ü but I made sure to reserve some to eat for a little chocolate craving for later. The mousse was light and fluffy with enough flavoring to taste the sweetness, the nuttiness and the chocolate and contrasted with the sponge cake rather well. Whether it stays as a staple with the cake or not, I don't know, but I will definitely make it again. Ü

Nutella Mousse

1-1/3 C heavy whipping cream
3 T sugar
1 t vanilla
1/2 C nutella

Whip the cream with a mixer until it almost looks like whipped cream.
Slowly add in the sugar and then the vanilla.
Put the nutella in a separate bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.
Take about a cup of the whipped cream and mix it into the nutella. {This step is necessary in order to get to the nutella to a lighter consistency so it will fold into the whipped cream well}
Pour the nutella into the whipped cream and gently fold in until it is fully incorporated.
Put into individual serving dishes or use as filling for a cake. (Can be refrigerated overnight)